Ilkley trail race.

Not on the moor; this race starts just north of the river and takes you north, so looking over Wharfedale you get quite a good view of Ilkley Moor.

But before I start – breaking news.  At my 1st BOFRA race, Dick Hudson’s (see a previous post), in Ilkley, I was first v60.  Yes – v60, not v65.  An unexpected success.

And here’s the start at Hutton Roof last weekend.  I know where I am on this photo.

The start at Hutton Roof fell race
The start at Hutton Roof fell race

The Ilkley Trail race was 10.9 km with 213 m of climb.  A short road section, then up through the wood, over a field, some track, road, track, some path, more road, more track, back over the road, down a track, down the field, back into the wood, down the road, down a few steps and sprint to the finish.  All runnable.  Which was my downfall; I need the walking bits.  So I did supply them, and walked – not a lot – that I should have run.  Despite which people were coming past me in the latter stages of the race.

Not a total success, therefore.  And not all that many points towards the club championship, but I did improve my points tally in the club Grand Prix.  And it was a nice run out in the countryside, on a fine if overcast and slightly cool day, and there were lots of runners to enjoy the event.  Once again,the cakes were good.  Won’t run now till the weekend.  Give my legs a break from running.  Hoping to get a bit of walking on Wednesday, which is said to use different muscles.  Intending to do the Edenfield fell race on Sunday.

30 done.  40 to go.

Hutton Roof Fell Race

For new readers; I’m 70 next year, and I’m doing 70 races in my 70th year.  And this is no. 29.

11.3 km, 397 m of climb.  Dry limestone country, but even so there were occasional damp bits.  Hardly enough to dirty the shoes though.

But to start with, the motorway was a mess.  A toss up really whether to go M6, or cross country via Settle and Kirkby Lonsdale.  That’s the way I went back, a nice run.  But I’d had a busy morning so I thought I’d go motorway; quicker you see.   Not entirely.  Several jams.  And I watched a dramatic emergency stop just beside/in front of me (he was in front of me when he finally managed to stop, by which time he was in my lane.  He managed not to hit anything).  And I switched lanes quickly when the big truck behind me was flashing his lights & I thought he might not be able to stop.  So when the signs said there was another jam after the junction, I got off the motorway south of Lancaster.

Bit of a relief therefore.  And a nice drive.  Never been to Hornby before.  Reminds me of my train set.  It has a castle.  Which is private, or so the sign says.  Good job the start was half an hour later than I thought.  I arrived with 30 minutes to spare.

Start by running down and round a field, then up a short concrete road through a farm, then single file climbing.  A lot of runners, so this was fairly bunged up.  I could manage that pace.  Then quite a lot of scrubby woodland, a relief as the sun was hot, then more open running, which was fine wherever there was a breeze.  Eventually the big climb, and as usual I hauled in a few places.  You hear the hum of the motorway just behind you, and you almost feel that, if you stepped back, you would fall directly onto the vehicles.  Probably a mile away in fact.

I guess my legs were tired after last night’s 10 km race, and I did walk some bits I should have run.  Not all that many though.  Anyway, after the climb I managed to get another 3 runners, and I was only passed by one.  Until the last 30 m when a couple of women came whistling past.  Never heard them coming.  Even if I’d known they were there, I doubt I could have summoned up the energy to stay in front.

Fantastic cakes as always.  Worth going just for them.

And I was 2nd v65.

Burnley Lions 10km

This road race is actually in Colne, and it’s quite a hilly course.  I gave myself a good talking to after walking the Roman road on Wednesday – and that, at least, was successful.  This 10 km race starts with a long steady climb, and this time I did not let it defeat me.  I ran all of it.  And it’s a 2 lap race.  And I ran all of it on the second lap.  And the other hills as well.  Didn’t walk any of it.  So that’s something of a relief.

Having said which, a Clayton runner whom I’ve always previously managed to beat finished quite a way ahead of me tonight; and several others, whom, I had managed to overhaul, crept past me again, one of them about six times in all, and finished in front of me.  So a mixed outcome really.  But another pleasant evening, again running in just shorts and a vest, and, just like Blackstone Edge on Wednesday, a really well organised event.

So that’s 28 races done or 40%.  Which I’m pleased with, as it’s not yet 3 months since my birthday.  So I’m getting more confident that I’ll manage the 70 – and probably with quite some time to spare.

And I’ve done 2 of the 6 needed for the Pendle & Burnley Grand Prix.

Blackstone Edge Fell Race

here we all are courtesy of Keith Parkinson
here we all are
courtesy of Keith Parkinson

5.6 km, 366 m of climb.  Felt like more.  I was not at all up to the run out, along the so called Roman road, a track with a steady climb, and I struggled; then right and down through a very boggy field, where I managed to overtake a few runners, and nearly went full length into the mud; just one leg black up to the upper thigh.  The other wet below the knee.  Then turn left over the stream and uphill to start the steady climb.  Everybody walking – I like that, and I passed about 7 or 8 competitors.  This picture shows the front runners climbing.   At my point in the race we’re much more spread out.  The boggy field is hidden behind the wall.

leaders heading up to the trig point courtesy of Dan Taylor
leaders heading up to the trig point
courtesy of Dan Taylor

Quite cold approaching the trig point at the top (I’m just in shorts & a vest), but the wind with us; a steady run through damp peat on the ridge, dodging the big rocks; 2 women got past me; then the descent.  Here I lost another 4 places.  Wind against us, sun in your eyes.  I think I’ll fall on the rocks.  Back into the black bog and climb back up to the Roman road; managed to haul in 2 or 3 but they were away again as we set off down the track.  So – could (?should) have done better.  Need to set off with more determination, and not be immediately defeated by the climb.  But a lovely evening.  And such a relief not to be on a relentless hard surface.

Good cakes once again.

As you’ve guessed from the photo, this was in the Tod Harriers championship.  So I’ve completed the Grand Prix now – only 8 races needed.   But I’ll need more to complete the road & fell & trail championships.

And here are photos from the relay at the weekend.

me courtesy of Dave Woodhead
courtesy of Dave Woodhead
and my partner in crime courtesy of Dave Woodhead
and my partner in crime
courtesy of Dave Woodhead

(Looks like I’m in front – not so).

So that’s 27 done – 43 to go.

Calderdale Way Relay – leg 5.

My partner on leg 5 has been kind enough to say he thoroughly enjoyed the day.  A real gentleman.  He had to spend the time we were out cajoling, encouraging, and waiting for me.  All of which he did with great skill and efficiency.

Skill and efficiency matched by the organisers, Halifax Harriers.  A mammoth task.  A race of 6 legs, with a pair of runners on each leg, and around 100 teams competing each year.  The logistics are terrifying.  And this is the 31st year of the race.

Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team provide cover for the race; 3 teams of trained volunteers, operating in shifts, to cover the whole day.  Not as arduous as in the past; this event used to take place in December.  However, a few years ago it had to be cancelled on the day due to adverse weather conditions and a decision was made to move it to the summer.  No ice, no snow, and the ground a lot drier.  Also, the leg 1 runners no longer start in the dark.

And for the last few years the Team has also put up a team of 12 runners to compete in the race.

Leg 5 from Wainstalls to Shelf covers 7.5 miles (12 km) around the north of Halifax, on paths and trails with a little road.  It starts at the most exposed change over point of the race, a windswept spot.

In the winter it was bitterly cold, waiting, the wind whipping across, for the leg 4 runners to arrive and hand over, or, in the case of every pair I have run in, for the mass start.  The wind up there today made it very reminiscent of previous winter starts; I was chilled by the time we set off in the mass start, not the best situation to start a race.

Anyway, we conquered the bog, the tarmac, the cobbles, the ups and downs and even managed to get and stay in front of several other teams.  A successful and enjoyable day out, all in all.  Maybe the team will select me again next year, if anybody is prepared to go at my pace.

I make it 26 done, 44 to do.

Wholan Nook Trail race, Burnley. 5 miles (8 km).

My first race in this year’s Pendle & Burnley Grand Prix.  Might complete it this year, with all the races I’m doing.  Only 6 of 13 races needed for anybody over 60.  This was a very popular race, on a nice evening, high up above the town with fine views and an eminently runnable course.  Having said which, I did seem to walk a lot of the hills – should have done better.

courtesy of Chris Preston
courtesy of Chris Preston

As you can doubtless recognise, the photo shows the trig point on Pendle Hill which is not anywhere near the trail race in Burnley.  So this is me being sociable on a Tod Harriers trip out; and this is the next day.  And the contrast in weather is huge.  Very windy and cold on Pendle; windy and hot, a warm wind, the previous evening for the trail race, indeed I was too hot in just vest and shorts.  And I did flag rather.  I think it was the baked hard trail surface.  Certainly my legs were screaming the next day.  Anyway the Pendle trip, where we were taken by bus, dropped off, and ran to the summit, then to the pub for a pie and a pint (or 2) did have the great benefit of a linear run, that you can run into the wind all the way.  None of us stayed at the trig point for long after the photograph; the beer was calling.

So this coming weekend it’s the Calderdale Way Relay, and I’m running leg 5 for the Search & Rescue Team.  And I’ve done 25 races, with only another 45 to go.

Blacksticks Blue 10 km road race; more than one third done now

You may well ask why I didn’t run on Saturday – my grand daughter’s 3rd birthday, that’s why.  Also I was tired after working for the General Election and disheartened by the disastrous result.  However, I guess that’s for a different blog.

Another foray into deepest Lancashire – and quite close to the excellent Caldervale race (see an earlier post).  So I was looking forward to this (never done it before) and I was not disappointed.  Lovely cakes, and I adopted the same approach as at Caldervale, laying in a stock before the race to await me in the car when I finished.  A very long walk to and from the parking area.  With me not being entirely sure where Inglewhite (the race start and finish) was, it took me longer than expected to drive there so I had little opportunity to warm up.

This route was not quite as enticing – Caldervale, being longer, has more chance for variety.  However it was a good climb, and a fine drop back down, and it was nice, once again, to run through the trees.  Too hot – I did run in just vest and shorts, but I worried there might be wind high up so I wore gloves.  Definitely not necessary.  Just a bit frustrated near the start; I’d stood too far back, and it was hard getting past a lot of slower runners bunched up across the road.  Must have been even more frustrating for all those who subsequently came past me.  Anyway, the road widened, runners thinned out, and there was a fair amount of switching of positions right through the race.  Quite happy with my time.  And a piece of very nice blue cheese for every finisher.

24 done, 46 to do.


The Cake Race

This is a fell race, based at Kiln Green Church at Diggle, in Saddleworth.   16 km with 518 m of climb.

cake-raceThe race starts on a track which was constructed for the canal barge horses to walk over the top while the barges were ‘legged’ through the tunnel below.  That meant the crew lying on their backs on the top of the barge, ‘walking’ along the roof of the tunnel, and thereby propelling the barge.  Sounds like it was a lot easier for the horses, and whoever walked them across, than for the crew in the tunnel.  Though the track was just steep enough for it to feel like hard work getting up there today.  And after the race – a free massage.  A soap and ice massage of my calves.  Never had one of those before.  Most relaxing.

And with a name like that, how could I resist the race?  The cake was indeed delicious.  I got into the church just as the prize giving began; and it was clear that the emphasis was on the merits of the cakes, whose cake had won, how they compared with last year, and so forth; who’d won the fell race came a very distant second.  This approach certainly attracted the runners.

windy day courtesy of the Woodheads
windy day
courtesy of the Woodheads

The weather was cold and windy, and I did feel it.  The race took us on tracks and paths between Diggle and Marsden, much of the route quite exposed.  For me, there was one dramatic event.  I’m not the best at descending, and I had been overtaken at the top of the track coming home – by a young woman whom I had just managed to haul in leaving the fell.  Once she passed me I did not expect to see her again.  I was most concerned, therefore, when, rounding a corner, I saw her motionless, lying on the track, head lower down the track than her feet.  She’d obviously fallen.

Happily, enquiry yielded a strong vocal response – ‘I’m alright, just winded’.  Another runner and I got her to her feet, ascertained she could walk, and that she denied pain.  So we set off again and left her to walk.  She got to the finish only a couple of minutes after me.  So I guess she’s alright despite the tumble.  Anyway, she completed another fell race the next day.

I was quite happy coming in 220th of 243 finishers.  Then off home and a hot bath to warm up.

And I’ve also done another Andy O Cowm res race.  Windy again – but I regretted not just running in a vest, as it turned out to be a warm, pleasant, wind and I was too hot.  This race was much the same as usual; a lot more runners this time, so I found myself boxing & coxing with about 5 other runners as we went round the reservoir.  Ended up in the same position at the end of all that; passed 2 but got passed by 2.  Happily, managed to get ahead of Peter, just like last week.

23  races completed; 47 to go.